It's been a busy Mardi Gras season at Occupy The Stage.
On January 19, Occupy The Stage rolled in krewedelusion - the parade that follows Krewe du Vieux, which kicks of Mardi Gras.
Our Krewe "Guise of Fawkes" made a "You can't jail an idea" float to show solidarity with imprisoned hactivists and Free Anons.
We were thrilled to receive donations of flags and stickers from Hammond Support Network
to use as throws during the parade. Along with our own handmade throws (voodoo dolls, chalk with Chalkupy instructions, and buttons we made with our button machine), these stickers made our parade great, and we hope to have raised awareness about Jeremy Hammond's unfair bail denial and the prison sentence he is facing.
Check out our full write-up
and the photo set below!
Guise of Fawkes "Go Fawkes Yourself" in krewedelusion 2013
Full text from slide show is available here
Interview with Local Artist
Interview with NOLA Cab Driver unable to get inspected despite fact that he upgraded to meet city standards.
The Super Bowl Should Not Be NOLA's Cross to Bear
Occupy The Stage met at 3pm in Jackson Square on Super Bowl Sunday and held a creative procession to celebrate our First Amendment right to free speech show solidarity with local artists, vendors, and workers. A female Jesus led a procession of monks who chanted while holding wooden hand-painted signs bearing slogans that included "Thou Shalt Not Create a Police State" and "Honor The Small Businesses." Our slideshow and video are below.
Mardi Gras and #OpValentine
Occupy The Stage's Mardi Gras Krewe - Guise of Fawkes - rolled with the Society of Saint Anne
on Mardi Gras Day (February 12).
Our Free Anons float included paper hearts people could use to write Valentines to mail to political prisoners as part of #OpValentine
! We've collected and addressed the Valentines and will be sending Mardi Gras love to political prisoners.
See our Mardi Gras Day slideshow below!
It's been a busy few weeks, and we are really grateful to all of our online and on ground supporters.
Happy Valentine's Day!
2 Words for Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the National Football League: Our Streets
"Money is not more important than constitutional rights, despite what Clean Zone would indicate.”
“Your Tax Dollars Working to Help the Rich Get Richer”
“Super Bowl XLVII – Sponsored by Corporate Greed”
Under the Clean Zone Ordinance and Guide established by the City of New Orleans, holding banners and signs with the above slogans in the Clean Zone during Super Bowl week would have been prohibited and punishable by a $500 fine and 6 months in jail.
Because no members of Occupy The Stage (or Occupy NOLA) are official NFL sponsors, and none of our proposed signs, flags, or banners contain any NFL branding, one of us asked the Court to intervene preenforcement and protect the First Amendment Rights of the citizens of New Orleans.
Occupy The Stage refused to stand by and watch this violation of citizens' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Moreover, the Clean Zone, which included most of the CBD, all of the French Quarter, most of the Marigny and many of the surrounding neighborhoods is traditionally a public forum. The streets, along Mayor Mitch Landrieu's imaginary "Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard," belong to the people of New Orleans. The City, through the Clean Zone Ordinance and Guide, had effectively established two classes of speech: permitted NFL-branded speech and excluded non-NFL-branded speech. This censorship was simply unacceptable. Moreover, the Supreme Court has noted, “the loss of First Amendment freedoms, even for minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.” Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373 (1976). The National Football League's attempt to control the content of signs and other public media in the Clean Zone is not in the public interest, despite Mayor Landrieu's claim that Clean Zone Ordinances will enhance the quality of life.
Members of OTS discussed the Clean Zone's obvious violation of our First Amendment rights at an Occupy NOLA General Assembly; we proposed outreach and action, including making our own mobile signs in the form of T-shirts since mobile signage attached to one's person is prohibited in the Clean Zone. We stenciled, cut, painted, and wore our "This Shirt Is Illegal" T-shirts, spreading awareness about the Clean Zone regulations.
After attending a community meeting about zoning, one of our members got in contact with the ACLU, eager to discuss this obvious violation of the right to free speech.
A PRAYER FOR RELIEF
Thanks to a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana behalf of an Occupy activist and a street preacher, on January 24, U.S. District Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt granted in part a temporary restraining order.
The Clean Zone just got smaller.
The TRO limits the Clean Zone to an area near the Superdome, where the game will be played Feb. 3. Banners, flags and signs without NFL branding are permitted in the French Quarter, the Marigny, and the whole CBD south of Loyola.
"Even the Super Bowl isn’t an excuse to suspend the First Amendment," said ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie R. Esman in a statement. "The founders of our country didn’t intend our rights to be suspended for a football game" The Gambit reporter Charles Maldonado quotes in ACLU sues city over Super Bowl "Clean Zone" UPDATE: Judge grants temporary restraining order, city can only enforce signage bans directly around Superdome.
Below is the press release from the ACLU regarding the plaintiffs.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2012
NEW ORLEANS — On behalf of Tara Ciccarone and Pastor Troy Bohn, today the ACLU of Louisiana sought an order to block enforcement of the "Clean Zone" enacted as part of the preparations for the Super Bowl. The plaintiffs seek to engage in constitutionally protected speech that is barred by this ordinance, adopted by the City of New Orleans at the behest of the NFL.
The "Clean Zone" establishes an area of New Orleans, specifically the French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny, and the Central Business District, where between January 28th and February 3rd the following prohibitions apply:
Inflatables, cold air balloons, banners, pennants, flags, building wraps, A-frame signs, projected image signs, electronic variable message signs, and light emitting diode signs of any kind shall be prohibited except for those sanctioned or authorized by the City,
General and mobile advertising (including, but not limited to, signs on or attached to a vehicle, portable device or person) shall be prohibited except for promotional displays sanctioned or authorized by the City (consisting of at least 60% Super Bowl/NFL branding, look and feel, and no more than 40% third party commercial identification) and by the National Football League (NFL), including, but not limited to, those placed on existing public utility poles.
Anyone – business or individual – who wishes to display such signs, flags, banners or other items must apply for a permit, and only official NFL sponsors may apply. Additionally, any such sign, banner or flag must "consist of at least 60% Super Bowl/NFL branding, look and feel, and no more than 40% third party commercial identification."
In other words, within the "Clean Zone" nobody can fly a flag of any kind - Mardi Gras, American flag, Louisiana flag, LSU flag - and simple signs such as "Restrooms for Customers Only", "Buy your King Cake here," or "Roger Goodell will not be served here" are forbidden unless the speaker is an NFL sponsor; the NFL and the City approve the message; and the content is at least 60% NFL branding.
Tara Ciccarone, a member of the Occupy group, plans to display signs and billboards with political messages in the French Quarter and the CBD during the Super Bowl. Among them are signs saying "Money is not more important than constitutional rights, despite what Clean Zone would indicate," and "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech..." Pastor Bohn, of Raven Ministries, regularly preaches on Bourbon Street. He and his congregation wear t-shirts and carry signs that read "I Love Jesus," "Ask Me How Jesus Changed My Life," or similar messages, and carry a large cross emblazoned with the words "Raven Street Church." All of these messages are prohibited by the "Clean Zone" ordinance.
"Even the Super Bowl isn’t an excuse to suspend the First Amendment," said ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie R. Esman. "The founders of our country didn’t intend our rights to be suspended for a football game."
While the ACLU’s immediate lawsuit concerns only noncommercial speech, the organization is concerned about the Clean Zone’s commercial implications as well. The "Clean Zone" forbids real estate "for sale" signs, and temporary advertisements on vehicles such as taxi cabs and food delivery cars. Esman continued: "Businesses have the right to promote themselves. If our local businesses are to benefit from the many visitors we expect, they must be able to inform customers of their offerings. Prohibiting stores from telling people they sell king cakes, or posting 'for sale' signs at properties, will hurt New Orleans businesses and deprive our visitors of the many options we have for them."
The ACLU of Louisiana’s suit against the City of New Orleans was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans. Copies of the Complaint and related documents are linked below.
Ciccarone et al v. New Orleans – Complaint
Ciccarone et al v. New Orleans – Memorandum for TRO
Ciccarone et al v. New Orleans – Exhibit 1 – Ordinance
Ciccarone et al v. New Orleans – Exhibit 2 – Guide
This is a big victory, but not a complete one.
There is more at stake, including:
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's Unfair Restrictions on Taxi Drivers
Mardi Gras Krewes Losing Money Due to Super Bowl!
The thousands of dollars some Mardi Gras krewes are losing because Mayor Landrieu has “asked” them to parade a week early so that “the focus stays on football", and the $300 million renovation Michael Patrick Welch describes in "How the Super Bowl Screws New Orleans"
6 Million Tax Dollars at Work!
Even more disturbing is the 6 Million Louisiana tax dollars that were spent by the Super Bowl Host Committee to divert attention away from New Orleans' problems and make sure the world sees NFL branding. "In order to fulfill all of the obligations of the bid, the Host Committee needs to raise $12 Million through public and private sources; $6 Million publicly from the State of Louisiana, and $6 Million through private corporation sponsorship." ~ New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee
The Host Committee explains that a portion of this money will be spend on "Recruiting and managing 8500 volunteers [UNPAID WORKERS] for Super Bowl week" Call the here: 504-525-5678
NFL's non-profit status
Despite the fact that it is a $9Billion/Year Industry, the NFL Commissioner and Owners continue to enjoy status as a non-profit organization.
Petitioning Congress Congress: Revoke the Tax-Exempt Status of the National Football League
Please Contact Us if you are interested in raising awareness about these issues!
~ Occupy The Stage
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2012
Occupy The Stage founder, Justin Warren was held at Orleans Parish Prison from June 20 - June 26 and transferred to Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a warrant he didn't know existed. His bond in Eastern Baton Rouge for charges of disturbing the peace and resisting arrest totaled 1,000.
Justin Warren has a voice that can carry and be heard over the din of city streets. His key voice at assemblies and protests in the occupy community has demonstrated his dedication as an advocate of freedom of speech. The charges he is facing are for allegedly disturbing the peace on the steps of the capitol building in Baton Rouge. On the 12th of March, he was in Baton Rouge with Occupy The Stage, Occupy NOLA and Occupy Baton Rouge for the opening of the 2012 session of the Louisiana Legislature that included a protest against budget cuts in education.
He was making a speech when an officer approached him and attempted to silence him. He continued exercising his First Amendment rights and was then approached by several officers who attempted to grab him from behind.
However, he slipped out of his jacket and left the steps of the State Capitol.
After he departed, Officer Holman (badge # 6071) said on camera that Justin was no longer disturbing the peace and would not be arrested. (see min 1:40 here: http://youtu.be/86OSs6YmM8s
When questioned as to why Louisiana State Police were interfering with Justin's First Amendment rights, Officer Holman replied that he was speaking without a permit. Apparently, The Tea Party had scheduled a separate event in
the same area, and they were not approached by the police because they had obtained said permit. The New Orleans protesters did not have a permit, nor did they need one according to The Bill of Rights. Occupy movements across the country continue to battle relentless attacks on free speech and assembly, which are assured to all citizens by our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The warrant and the ensuing transfer to Baton Rouge are obviously a ridiculous waste of taxpayers' money. No citizen should need a permit to exercise freedom of speech in the State of
Louisiana. Public spaces, including the steps of the capitol building, are protest points where free speech has been exercised for decades.
Justin Warren was released after spending 6 days in Orleans Parish Prison and 1 day in Eastern Baton Rouge Parish Prison. He needs to be compensated for his loss of income while being held for no justifiable reason.
Friends in another Occupy worked very hard on this.
Attention Watch Commander:
We encourage any officer who does not wish to be included in any legal consequences and or subpoenas that result from the action to which you have been deployed to stand down and retreat NOW.
We, The People of this assembly hereby address the agencies and officers deployed to remove our assemblage from this public space with a declaration of intent to prosecute excessive use of force and unethical deployment of police in the following statement to their command:
The deployment of police intimidation, riot police and use of force-based practices for the dispersion or arrest of this assemblage of freely associated persons for the purposes of expression of grievances for redress is unlawful in the following manners:
Under Title 28 United States Code Section 1343(a)(3) and USC Title 42 Section 1983; Including such rights as described in the first, fourth, fifth, and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution and or any relevant rights as described under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights as ratified by the United States of America and her allies.
1. It is unlawful for a police officer or agency to proceed with escalation of force against passive protesters offering no resistance, no threat to officer safety, no threat to civilians or any other justification for any use of force beyond the simplest arrest procedures.
2. It is unlawful for police agencies or personnel to proceed with such arrest protocols as to prevent members of this assemblage from leaving the area of their own volition to avoid arrest.
3. It is unlawful for police officers or agencies to proceed in such a manner as to force members of this assemblage into a public byway or into any other inherently unlawful place of assembly in order to justify arrest.
4. It is unlawful for any police officer or agency through the use of intimidation, protocols, procedures or escalation of force to endanger, injure, prevent access to emergency medical services, fire and rescue services or otherwise risk the life, limb, property or safety of any member of this assemblage or any peaceful bystander.
5. It is unlawful for any police officer or agency to force the inclusion of any member of this assemblage, member of the press, peaceful bystander or other person not choosing to remain after the declaration of intent to arrest through the use of any previously mentioned tactic, protocol or technique.
6. a. Escalation of force is defined as the clear and present need to overpower an uncooperative, combative or otherwise dangerous suspect through the minimum use of force necessary to safely detain, arrest or subdue.
b. Without the presence of felony assault, assault with intent to kill, assault with a deadly weapon, endangerment of civilians, attempt to flee in a manner which creates any previously mentioned condition or a clear physical superiority on the part of the suspect it is unlawful to use pepper spray, batons, Tasers, physical assault of any kind and or any other "less than lethal" or lethal method which may cause physical harm to the suspect.
7. a. Any unlawful escalation of force described in this statement will be considered a violation of human rights on the part of the officers and or agencies responsible for the acts.
b. Any such actions under color of law resulting in injury, harm or death will be considered felony assault, attempted murder, manslaughter or other applicable felonious charge and are to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
c. The actions, protocols and the procedures deemed directly related under Title 28 United States Code Section 1343(a)(3), Title 42 Section 1983, Including such rights as described in the first, fourth, fifth, and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution and or any relevant rights as described under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights as ratified by the United States of America and her allies or any other applicable State or local statute.
8. Any violations of the aforestated or any other human rights or guarantees under any law on the part of this agency or it's affiliates will be recorded, publicized and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Unlawful use of force for the purposes of dispersing, quelling and silencing of The People will no longer be tolerated or go unpunished.
9. You may proceed with your arrests of such members of this assemblage as choose to remain to be arrested in a lawfully decreed manner under the direction and supervision of such judiciary and or representatives as can prove beyond shadow of doubt that we are an illegal assembly.
In Peaceful Solidarity,
The People assembled under the auspice of Occupy.